High tea vs Afternoon Tea; which one should you indulge in?
High teas have become such popular daytime events. The high tea events range from fashion tea high teas, bridal, fundraising to baby shower high teas. But what if I told you what you know as high tea is not actually high tea?
Yes, the phrase high tea has been interchangeably used for what is Afternoon tea.
What is being referred to by most (Americans being the biggest culprits) as high tea is actually not what is originally high tea but afternoon tea. It is only the English who refer to each correctly but obviously because both meals borrow their origin from them.
Now, let’s start right from the origin of high tea before we move to the basics of high tea.
The origin of high tea
Back then during the industrial revolution era in the 18th century, working-class people were forced to stay away from their homes working. They worked up until past 6 pm and so they could not afford the luxury of the afternoon tea.
The afternoon tea was usually served between 3 pm and 4 pm and this meant that they had to take their tea later.
And so by the time they got home they were quite starved and needed a rather heavy meal which was then accompanied with tea. And this is how high tea came about.
In another account however, high tea came about as a variation of the famous afternoon tea which was more of a social event for the rich. The poor could not afford to indulge in endless cups of tea since it was too costly and also because they had no time. They had to go to work all day to fend for their families.
Today, what you know as high tea being served in many established hotels and tea houses is afternoon tea.
But then why do they call it high tea yet it is served during afternoon teatime?
Your guess is as good as mine.
Because high tea sounds fancy. And who wouldn’t want to be associated with something fancy? Even event organizers hold afternoon tea events but name them high tea. Good examples are the glamorous fashion high teas.
I hope by now you have noted that Afternoon tea and High tea are two very different meals. In fact, the only thing similar between the two besides the word tea is the fact that tea is a constant. It is served in both meals.
Afternoon tea is more of a social event but which started as a transition meal between lunch and dinner. During the industrial era, people took only two meals, and dinner was served at 8 pm which was rather late. So to curb the hunger pangs, afternoon tea was introduced which comprised of tea and light snacks.
Afternoon tea has since become a social event not only for the upper class but across all divides. On the other hand, high tea still remains to be a meal by itself taken after 6 pm. And which comprises of tea served alongside heavy hearty dishes.
The difference between High tea and Afternoon tea
The biggest difference between the high tea and the afternoon tea is their timing and what is served.
Afternoon tea is served at 4 pm and includes tea, scones served with clotted cream and jam, crustless finger sandwiches and other cakes.
On the other hand, high tea is taken after 6 pm and the tea is served alongside heavy hearty dishes.
The origin of the name “high tea”?
The origin of the name high tea is debated to have come either from the fact that it is taken later in the day which is the ‘high’ part of the day. Or that during this meal, people sat on the dining table which has high chairs and tables.
And this brings us to yet another difference between high tea and afternoon tea. Which is afternoon tea is served on low chairs and tables for comfort while high tea is served on the dining table with high chairs.
What is served during high tea
Well, the high tea menu is basically what one would eat during dinner or what the English call supper. The traditional English high tea menu includes a pot of tea, of course, served with the following:
- Hearty meat dishes such as steak
- Fish dishes, the most popular being pickled salmon
- Vegetables like peas and potatoes
- Cheese and cheesy casseroles
- Baked foods such as baked beans, crumpets or barmbrack
Different types of tea can be served during high tea. It is just a matter of preference really. You can have the English favorite black tea or the modern types such as licorice tea, Green tea, or you can cross the borders and have yourself a cup of Russian tea.
You can even have milk or sugar added to your tea or add some herbs and spices to it. Whatever tickles your fancy.
I know Brits like their tea, dark. Really dark and bitter and prefer it sugarless with no milk. The Dutch prefer it slightly dark and not anywhere close to bitter. The Indians on the other hand, like it with sugar and milk and they call their tea, ‘Indian Chai’.
I hope you are now clear on what exactly high tea is, and how different it is from the afternoon tea. Now be a good ambassador and teach those near you on what you just learned. This high tea- afternoon tea confusion just needs to stop.